This document has been compiled to highlight and summarise the safety aspects of road surfaces, primarily in the United Kingdom. Research from outside of the UK is also included where it was felt that UK-based research was incomplete.

The purpose of this document is to provide the reader with an overview of the topic of road safety relating to road surfaces. The topic has been sub-categorised broadly in to the following areas:

  • Surface condition;

  • Wet surfaces;

  • Accidents relating to road surface;

  • Road surface types and treatments; and,

  • Skid resistance and texture.

The skid resistance offered by wet road surfaces decreases as vehicle travel speeds increase. In 2015, 26 per cent of all Road Traffic Incidents (RTIs) recorded in the UK occurred in such surface conditions and it has also been proven that RTI rates in wet weather increase as the skid resistance of the surface decreases. Improvements have been made to the wet-road driving experience in the UK by the addition of spray suppression devices and negative-textured surfaces.

Skid resistance is considered to be one of the most important surface characteristics and although a wide variety of road surface characteristics are studied and measured at present, only skid resistance is regulated as a standard for roads maintenance.

In addition to skid resistance, surface texture can also have a profound effect on stopping distances. A surface with low texture traversed by a vehicle moving at high speed can result in very long stopping distances and therefore an increased chance of RTI.

High Friction Surfacing is a proven road surface treatment that increases skid resistance and reduces braking distance, thereby reducing the potential for RTIs. With a skid RTI reduction of up to 50 per cent often being reported, high friction surfacing can save lives and money at the appropriate locations, although the initial cost of installation can be prohibitive – and the material can have a detrimental effect on the underlying surface.


  • Date Added: 03 Apr 2012, 08:09 AM
  • Last Update: 30 Jan 2017, 12:56 PM